For a minute there, it looked like Kansas lawmakers were going to make it harder for those found guilty of misdemeanor domestic violence in the last five years to have guns.
Since nobody is for arming abusers, the bill whipped right through the House last month, passing 120-0. With no opposition, what could go wrong?
State Sen. Ty Masterson, for starters.
He started thinking about how unfair it was that his nephew had been suspended from school for a whole year for having a throwing star that wasn’t even a real throwing star. Instead, it was some kind of Batman-themed metal thing that could be, and had been, seen as an illegal and lethal weapon under current law. (Might the confusion be that these little gizmos are advertised as "Batman throwing stars?")
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Masterson might or might not have also been thinking that this was a very meta way to gum up the gun bill — you know, given that our word "nepotism" comes from the Italian "nipote," or nephew. But either way, his amendment would make it against the law to have a throwing star only if the intent is to use it unlawfully against another person.
So it’s against the law only if you intend to use it unlawfully?
Maybe Democratic Sen. Lynn Rogers doesn’t know Masterson’s nephew, but he wondered why public servants would slow momentum on a potentially life-saving bill with an amendment on an obscure device inspired by a comic-book character.
With Kansans waiting to be protected from domestic abusers, it’s “very important that we pass it clean and keep it that way,” he said, “so we can move forward and send it to the governor as soon as possible.”
No way, said Uncle Ty. “It’s not wrong to fix a problem at any time.”
It is wrong, though, to put a personal pet peeve ahead of the common good.
Republican Sen. Caryn Tyson also added an amendment that would clarify that it’s legal to manufacture, sell and possess silencers in Kansas, after the federal prosecution of a manufacturer and a purchaser in the state.
“I’m horrified, and I think leadership was too,” Republican Sen. Barbara Bollier said of the bill-stalling amendments.
For now, a top GOP senator says he is “just letting it sit there for a while.” Like a nice Bordeaux, we suppose, though that’s far too leisurely an approach.
Doubtless Master Masterson is a good kid and all. But putting his toys ahead of public safety? As Robin said to Batman, “Holy nightmare.”